Chapter 1: The Family Is Central to the Plan of Salvation

Introduction to Family History Teacher Manual: Religion 261, (2012), 1–3


Introduction

We know that individuals and families are of eternal worth in Heavenly Father’s sight because His plan provides for their salvation. The worth of each soul is so great that He sent His Beloved Son to atone for us so that we could repent and return to Him (see D&C 18:10–11).

Sister Julie B. Beck, while serving as general president of the Relief Society, focused our attention on the central role of the family when she taught, “The plan of happiness, also called the plan of salvation, was a plan created for families” (“Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, Mar. 2011, 12). As you teach students the doctrines and principles in this chapter, help them understand their identity as children of a loving Heavenly Father, that they are here on earth to continue becoming like Him, and that the family is central to their progress within the plan of salvation. This knowledge will lay the foundation for why we are commanded to seek after our kindred dead and to vicariously participate in saving ordinances on their behalf.

    Some Doctrines, Principles, and Gospel Truths

  • “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10).

  • In the premortal life we lived as spirit children of heavenly parents.

  • Families are central to Heavenly Father’s plan for our mortal life.

  • In our Heavenly Father’s plan, families are meant to be eternal.

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Suggestions for Teaching

“The Worth of Souls Is Great in the Sight of God”

Show pictures of a baby and an elderly person. Ask students to identify elements of worth common to both, and then elements distinct to each individual. For example: They both have spirits from Heavenly Father—the older person has experience and knowledge that the baby lacks; the baby is innocent and guiltless and has a lifetime of potential ahead.

  • What is the ultimate goal that Heavenly Father has for both the baby and the elderly person? (To return to God and become like Him.)

Write “Doctrine and Covenants 18:10” on the board, and ask a student to read the verse to the class.

  • Why do you think the word remember is important in this scripture?

  • What evidence have you seen that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 18:11–13 and list what the Savior did that shows how much He values each individual. (He suffered death and the pain of suffering for the sins of all people. He was resurrected so that we might repent and come to Him. He has great joy when we repent.)

Ask students to suggest other scriptures that also emphasize the worth of souls in God’s eyes. If students are unable to come up with other scriptures, consider reading John 3:16; Moses 1:39; and Alma 26:37 together with the class. Ask what each scripture teaches about the worth of souls.

  • How can knowing these truths affect your understanding of your individual worth?

Invite students to share their testimonies regarding their infinite worth in the sight of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to share experiences that either led to or strengthened that testimony.

In the Premortal Life We Lived as Spirit Children of Heavenly Parents

Invite students to read Acts 17:29; Hebrews 12:9; and Doctrine and Covenants 138:56 and look for what these scriptures teach about our premortal existence. Then ask:

  • What do these verses teach about our premortal existence?

Explain that latter-day prophets have taught us more about our premortal experience. Ask students to read in the institute student manual under the headings “We are spirit children of heavenly parents” (1.3.1) and “The family is eternal” (1.3.2).

  • Why is it important for you to know that in the premortal world you belonged to the family of Heavenly Father and that you are His child?

Families Are Central to Heavenly Father’s Plan for Our Mortal Life

Write the following statement on the board:

The family is the most important organization on earth.

  • Why do you think this statement is true? (Encourage several responses from students, and list their responses on the board.)

Have students read in the student manual under the headings “The plan of salvation was created for families” (1.5.1), “Important lessons are learned through family relationships” (1.5.2), and “The greatest happiness comes through families” (1.5.3). As students read, have them consider why the family is the most important organization on the earth.

  • What would you say to someone who has a difficult time understanding the importance of the family?

  • How would life be different if we had all been sent to earth as individuals without family relationships—no father, mother, siblings, ancestors, or posterity?

  • What experiences have you had that helped you better understand the family’s importance?

Ask students to refer to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (see student manual, end of chapter 1).

Assign students as individuals, pairs, or in small groups to look for sentences or phrases in paragraphs 4, 5, 6, and 7 that indicate the central nature of the family in mortality. After a few minutes invite students to share with the class what they found and what it means to them. Consider concluding this portion of the lesson by giving students individual pieces of paper and asking them to respond in writing to the question, “What are a few things you could do to make your family more of a central focus in your life?”

In Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, Families Are Meant to Be Eternal

Invite students to think of a time when a family member or a friend died. Explain that though funerals are sad occasions, they can often be comforting and uplifting because of the truths that are taught there, especially about the eternal nature of family relationships. Ask the class:

  • Have any of you ever experienced the death of a loved one? Tell us a little about it. (If students have not had such an experience, you might share one of your own.)

Ask a student to read aloud the statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson in the student manual under the heading “No sacrifice is too great to have an eternal family” (1.7.2).

  • Why do you think no sacrifice is too great to have the blessings of an eternal family?

Assign half of the class to study Doctrine and Covenants 132:15–18, looking for what the Lord says awaits those who do not meet His requirements for marriage. Have the other half of the class study Doctrine and Covenants 132:7, 19, looking for what the Lord requires for a marriage to continue after death.

  • What are some phrases in these verses that describe the condition in the next life of those who do not meet the Lord’s requirements of marriage? (“Not of force when they are dead,” “ministering servants,” “cannot be enlarged,” “separately and singly, without exaltation,” “not valid.”)

  • What requirements must be met in order for a marriage to last beyond death? (Be married in the temple and continue faithful to the end.)

    Note: If “sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise” seems to be misunderstood by students, consider sharing the following quotation: “The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit of Promise (Acts 2:33). He confirms as acceptable to God the righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants of men. The Holy Spirit of Promise witnesses to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Holy Spirit of Promise,” scriptures.lds.org).

  • How can this doctrine affect you and the choices you are making in life?

Share your testimony of the central nature of the family in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. Express to your class the feelings you have for your own family and their importance to you. Invite students to consider two or three things they can do at this point in their lives so they may claim the blessings of an eternal family and bring those blessings to others through family history and temple work.